CHICAGO (CBS) — CBS 2 first told the story of Keuntae Mile who was cremated days after a missing persons report was filed.
But his family didn’t find out for months.
Now, a second family is sharing a very similar story. They spoke to CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey.
Derrick Johnson’s family was worried sick looking for him for weeks. But he was at the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office the whole time.
The problem? They didn’t have a Derrick Johnson. They had a Keith Johnson.
When April Johnson’s 62-year-old father Derrick Johnson didn’t report for dialysis, the hospital reached out.
“He came one day and then he just disappeared and we couldn’t find him,” Johnson said.
She filed a missing person’s report with Chicago police and called the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office fearing the worst.
“No one named Derrick Johnson in their system,” she said.
Days turned into seven weeks with Derrick’s large family frantically searching for him. Until Johnson’s case was assigned to a fresh detective who told them to look in the morgue again.
April was shown a photo from case number 2890: Keith Johnson.
“Yeah, it was my dad. And my dad’s name is not Keith Johnson,” she said. And she was upset that she couldn’t see him one last time, because his remains had been cremated.
“You’ve cremated my dad under somebody else’s name.”
The family wants to know how this happened. Police and body transport records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act show that Derrick had been misidentified from the start.
His unresponsive body was found in an Englewood apartment complex on April 16. Without any ID on him, police recorded his name as Keith Johnson because that’s what a friend told them.
“Why not finger print him? Why take the word of somebody that’s not even close enough to say this is someone that he’s not,” wondered April Johnson.
The man’s fingerprints were already in CPD’s criminal database. Now his family has had to forego the funeral service that they’d been planning.
And they want to make sure this kind of misidentification doesn’t happen to anyone else.
“If somebody would have double checked, or did a second check, we probably would not be sitting here talking to you today,” said Yolanda Willis, mother of Derrick Johnson’s children.
“They still have a right to a proper burial and memorial for their loved ones, to be able to find them,” April Johnson said.
CBS 2 asked Chicago police about the error on the original police report. A spokesperson said they had not been notified about any sort of investigation into the mix up.
The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office corrected the record and provided Johnson’s remains, free of charge.